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How to Install a Smoke Detector or Carbon Monoxide Detector

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How to Install a Smoke Detector or Carbon Monoxide Detector


It's an overused saying - better safe than sorry. Most fire deaths occur in homes lacking smoke detectors.To protect your loved ones, it is imperative that you install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. This article tells you how.


Choose your location. It is recommended by firefighters that you mount your detectors high on the wall, or on the ceiling away from windows and exterior doors. Smoke fills up a room from the ceiling down, so having the detectors high should alert you early on. It is also recommended that detectors be placed at least 10 cm / 4" from the wall when installed on the ceiling, and 10 cm / 4" from the ceiling for wall installation.

It is important to know, that while the best location for smoke detector is on the ceiling, for the carbon monoxide detector it is on the floor. The monoxide is heavier than air, so it fills the room from the floor up. When it reaches the ceiling, it is far too late for everybody in the room.

Place smoke detectors in the best places around the house. It is important to install detectors near sleeping areas and on every level of your home. Also place a detector in hallways and a carbon monoxide detector near heating, such as gas furnaces. Avoid installing a smoke detector in the kitchen. Unless, of course, you want everyone to notice your lack of culinary skills! Also keep detectors one meter / 3.3 feet from the doorways of steam emitting areas, such as the bathroom, laundry or kitchen.

Install the hardware.

Measure the distance between the mounting holes on the back of the mounting bracket.

Mark the same distance on your chosen location.

Drill small holes at the marks.

Attach the mounting bracket to the surface with the screws. See "Tips" for seeking professional assistance.



Mount the rest of the detector into the bracket.

Perform regular maintenance.

Routinely test your detectors by pushing the test button to elicit a loud noise. If there is no noise, or a faint noise, you should check or change the batteries.

Try to change the batteries at least twice a year. A good way to remember is: Every time you change the clocks, change the batteries.

Note that carbon monoxide detectors have a chemical that helps in the detection process. This needs to be replenished over time, so be sure to check this as well as the batteries.

Rest a little easier. It's simple but it's an important step to take to help protect your loved ones and your home. To provide additional certainty on top of the detector, take a moment to develop a safety escape plan. Make sure that all the members of the family know this plan, know how they can escape and where they can all reassemble again once outside the house. Include special needs such as infants and the elderly when developing your plan.


If you are using hardwire detectors, have a qualified electrician help. Double check the instruction manuals for each specific brand. In fact, make sure to thoroughly read the instructions that accompany your smoke or carbon detector, as there may be differences from what is outlined here that are specific to your model.

Carbon monoxide detectors have a chemical that helps in the detection process. This needs to be replenished over time, so be sure to check this as well as the batteries.
Note that there are two types of smoke detectors: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization smoke detectors detect fast spreading fires resulting from burning combustibles such as paper or grease. These account for 70% of home fires. Photoelectric detectors detect slower fires, such as those that smoulder for hours before taking off; for example, a cigarette on bedding or couches. These account for 30% of home fires. Health Canada recommends installation of both types of smoke detectors to provide wider coverage and earlier alerts. Note that some detectors can detect both.
The FDNY recommends keeping bedroom doors closed when you sleep, or have detectors on every level of the home.
Know whose responsibility it is to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if you are renting; it will likely differ from states to state, province to province, county to county etc.,


Always check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly! A depleted battery will prevent the alarm from working and many homes and lives have been destroyed by not checking the batteries in detectors.
Intermittent beeps from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector are a warning that you need to replace the batteries. Keep batteries on hand for this and heed the beeping.
Do not "borrow" batteries from other devices. You have no way of knowing whether or not these batteries are in good shape.
Replace any smoke detector over the age of 10 years.
Things You'll Need
smoke or carbon monoxide detector
a drill
a screwdriver and screws
measuring tape
a pencil